Championship Saturday: Luke Fickell has his UC Bearcats in AAC title game for second straight year. Dangerous #24 Tulsa is the opposition


CINCINNATI – The No. 9 University of Cincinnati football team faces No. 23 Tulsa in the American Athletic Conference Championship game on Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020. The game airs on ABC and 700 WLW AM. UC is appearing in the game for the second-straight year.
Head Coach
 Luke Fickell
Record at Cincinnati 34-13 (Fourth Year)
Overall Record 40-20 (Fifth Year)
Head Coach
 Philip Montgomery
Record at School 31-38 (Sixth Year)
Overall Record Same
 Nippert Stadium
Capacity 40,000
Radio 700 WLW AM / Sirius 206 / XM 202 / Internet 965
Series Record Tulsa leads 17-15-2
At Cincinnati Cincinnati leads 12-4
Last Meeting Oct. 19, 2019 – UC W, 24-13
• Play-by-Play: Joe Tessitore
• Analyst: Greg McElroy
• Reporter: Holly Rowe
• Online:
• Mobile App: ESPN
• Play-by-Play: Dan Hoard
• Analyst: Jim Kelly Jr.
• Sideline Reporter: Tony Pike
• Host/Engineer: Mo Egger
• Local: 700 WLW AM
• Satellite: Sirius 206 / XM 202 / Internet 965
• Online: / iHeartMedia App
• Mobile App: TuneIn (search Cincinnati Bearcats)
The teams have met 35 times previously, but Saturday marks the fourth matchup since 1997 and the fifth different date for the game this season. The teams were originally scheduled to meet during the regular season on Oct. 17, the game was moved to Dec. 5, then Dec. 4, then Dec. 12 before being canceled on Dec. 8. Tulsa leads the all-time series 17-15-2 with UC winning five of the past six matchups. The Golden Hurricane hold a 10-6-2 advantage in Chapman Stadium.
LUKE FICKELL, the 2018 AAC Coach of the Year, is in his fourth season at UC. He has led the Bearcats to back-to-back 11-win seasons, the 2019 AAC East Division title and consecutive bowl wins in the 2018 Military Bowl and 2019 TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl. A veteran of 20 years in the FBS ranks, Fickell has been a part of two national championship squads, nine conference title-winning teams (seven as a coach, two as a player at Ohio State) with 16 postseason games and 13 NFL Draft selections.
Philip Montgomery is 31-38 in his sixth year as a head coach at Tulsa. Montgomery came to TU after a seven-year stint as the offensive coordinator/QB coach at Baylor. Under his coaching, the Bears led the NCAA in total offense and scoring offense in both 2013 and 14. Prior to his stint with the Bears, Montgomery spent five years at Houston.


  • UC plays its 133rd football season in 2020. The Bearcats program dates to 1885 and is one of the 10 oldest in the NCAA FBS. UC has won a league title five times in the last 13 years and has played 11 bowl games in the past 14 years.
  • Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, UC lost games at Nebraska, Temple, vs. Miami (OH) and Western Michigan. The APSU game was moved from Sept. 3 to Sept. 19, UC added Army on Sept. 26 and the Tulsa game was moved three times, to Dec. 12.
  • UC has won five-straight American Athletic Conference FB Team Academic Excellence Awards from 2015-20.
  • Fifteen states and four countries are represented on UC’s 2020 roster, which features nearly 62 percent (77/125) Ohio natives, including 31 from Cincinnati. Eighty-three of UC’s 125 players (66.4 percent) are sophomores or below.
  • UC is 30-5 since 2018, ranking among the top five teams in CFB in winning percentage during that span (.857).
  • UC has won 19-straight at Nippert Stadium, going undefeated at home in three-straight seasons for the first time in school history.
  • UC ranks in the Top-10 of all three national polls for the first time since the end of the 2009 regular season and is off to an 8-0 start for the fourth time in program history, along with 1951, 1954 and 2009.
  • UC scored 36 at UCF, 55 vs. ECU, 38 vs. Houston, 49 against Memphis and 42 at SMU, the first time in UC history scoring 36 or more points in five-straight games. UC is outscoring its opponents 327-120 this season.
  • UC has forced a turnover in 18-straight games, the longest active streak in the NCAA FBS.
  • UC has outscored foes 62-18 in the fourth quarter the past five games, with a 42-11 mark against SMU, Memphis and UCF.
  • UC is playing the AAC Championship game for the second-straight season.
  • Saturday marks the latest date a game will be played in Nippert Stadium, surpassing the Xavier game on Dec. 7, 1918.
  • UC last played a game on Nov. 21, 2020 at UCF,  a layoff of 28 days. UC’s games at Temple and Tulsa were canceled. 
  • UC ranks No. 4 in in scoring defense (15.0 ppg), No. 2 in pass efficiency defense (94.74) and No. 10 in total defense (308.1).
  • QB Desmond Ridder has 11 rushing TDs this season, 21 for his career, most ever for a UC QB and tied for No. 9 all-time. 
  • Ridder has 21 TDs in the last 5, passing for 1,224 yds/10 TDs and running for 455 yds (8.8 YPR)/11 TDs. The last FBS player to reach those numbers over 5-game span was Lamar Jackson during his 2016 Heisman season according to StatsPerform.
  • Ridder is a semifinalist for the Davey O’Brien Award and Maxwell Award, DE Myjai Sanders is a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award and S James Wiggins is a semfinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award.